Imagine a world where street lamps pointed you to available parking spaces or helped you understand the fastest commute home. What if those same light fixtures could warn of a weather event or help first responders react to a 911 call before they even arrive on scene? That’s a reality engineers, software developers and other innovators are working toward.

A bold shift

“This is going to change the bulb that Thomas Edison created more than 100 years ago,” said Jerry Duffy, global product manager for GE. “Today cities are asking for solutions that make their existing infrastructure smarter. Lighting, paired with software and data, is helping fill that need.”

By repurposing street lights with LEDs containing sensors, controls, wireless transmitters and microprocessors, a city will be able to create new opportunities for reducing cost, optimizing their operations and creating value-added services for residents, making their cities even more livable and workable. That’s something city leaders in Jacksonville and San Diego are exploring.

“There’s a world of possibilities out there, and we’re truly unleashing a whole new era for how we light and think about our world.”

“This technology has the potential to transform how our city solves problems by allowing us to use the power of data to drive outcomes that give us flexibility, efficiency and new, creative actions to enhance life in our city,” said James M. Robinson, director of the Department of Public Works, City of Jacksonville. “We’re in pilot stages now, but will look to enhance the prototype system to broaden our applications and use.”

Cutting costs

David Graham, deputy chief operating officer, City of San Diego, says an installation of GE connected LED street lights has already saved the city more than $250,000 in energy savings, not including reduced maintenance and labor costs. The city’s current Intelligent City lighting pilot will add additional value. “We will eventually be able to customize the lighting network to respond to things like weather, events and special circumstances,” he said. “Imagine a built-in sensor that could brighten an area where police are searching for a suspect. Intelligent lighting systems are helping cities gain control of our lighting environments in a way never seen before.”

“We’re creating solutions for cities to realize much more control and potential over a technology they’ve been using for years,” said Duffy. “There’s a world of possibilities out there, and we’re truly unleashing a whole new era for how we light and think about our world.”